Wondering how to paint wood paneling? Whether you have real wood planks or a faux 1970’s wood paneling, watch this VIDEO TUTORIAL to find out all you need to know about painting wood paneling.
Should I paint my wood paneling? Is wood paneling outdated? What kind of paint should you use on wood paneling? I asked myself all these questions and more when we purchased Little Pax Ranch.
Spoiler alert: I painted my wood paneling. And I love it.
And today I’m going to show you exactly how to paint paneling. I even made a step by step video to show you how.
Before I share the full tutorial, I want to address a few FAQs regarding painting wood paneling. If you are ready to jump in, though, feel free to scroll down to the video below!
Painting Wood Paneling FAQs:
Is wood paneling outdated?
Not necessarily. I’m a firm believer in decorating your home however makes you happy… But it is definitely not as widely popular these days as it once was. If you are looking for an affordable update to brighten your home, painting your paneling might be a good home improvement project for you and could even increase your home value.
Do you have to sand wood before painting?
Again, not necessarily. Read on for tips for painting wood paneling without sanding!
What kind of paint should you use on wood paneling?
Really the question should be, what kind of primer should you use on wood paneling? The most important thing is to use a good quality water or oil based primer before applying any wall paint.
If primed properly, the planks or panels can be painted with almost any wall paint. I like to use satin paint on paneling, though. It is more forgiving and wipe-able than flat but gives the paneling a soft, subtle look.
Common mistakes when painting paneled walls
There are three mistakes people often make when painting paneling:
- Not prepping the walls properly, which can cause problems with the paint chipping or flaking off.
- Not priming properly, which can lead to bleed through.
- Not getting the right amount of paint into the cracks between planks. Too little causes an uneven finish, while too much causes drips.
But don’t worry, I’m going to show you from start to finish how to avoid those mistakes and paint paneling to last.
How to paint wood planks or paneling video tutorial
How to paint wood paneling without sanding
For those who prefer written directions, here are your step by step instructions.
This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure.
Step 1: Prep your space
Remove hardware from the walls, including electrical covers. And move your furniture to obtain clear access.
Next, you need to prep your paneling. The shinier the paneling is, the harder it will be for the paint to adhere. The paneling I recently painted was completely matte, so I just gave it a good scrubbing with all purpose cleaner and an old washcloth.
If your paneling is sealed with something glossy, though, you should consider two options. My first choice would be to use a liquid deglosser. You simply wipe on with a clean rag and let the chemicals do the work. As with any chemical stripper, though, you’ll need to be sure to take proper precautions.
The final option is to give the entire wall a light sanding to remove the glossy sheen so that the primer and paint can adhere. This is a messy option, though, and if your paneling is not real wood, you need to be careful that you don’t sand through the wood-look layer. So I would recommend the deglosser instead.
Remember, you don’t need to remove the finish completely, just remove the glossy coating so the paint can stick.
If you do try the deglosser or sanding, you’ll still want to make sure the walls are cleaned well before moving on to the next step.
How to paint wood paneling with grooves
Step 2: protect your trim and floors
Start by taping off your baseboards and other trim. I actually normally just freehand the cut in, but with paneling you have to jab your paintbrush into the cracks near your trim, so you will need to tape this off with high-quality painter’s tape. Then be sure to lay down drop cloths to protect your floors.
Once the walls are deglossed and clear of dust and oils and all taped up, you can begin priming. I prefer a water-based, stain blocking primer for something this large because it allows for easy clean up.
Step 3: Prime the walls
Here is where it can get tricky: the width of your paneling and the depth of the grooves will determine the best way to apply your primer and paint. The walls I recently painted were 2.5” pine boards, so a 2-3” angled brush proved to be the easiest way to apply the primer.
To prime into the grooves in your paneled walls, you will likely need to paint along each groove with a brush. If your grooves are close together, like mine were, then it may make sense to simply paint the flat portions with the brush while you paint the grooves.
If your spaces between the grooves are especially large, though, it may make better sense to paint the grooves with a brush and then roll the walls for the flat portions. Either way, you want to prime everything.
Warning: do NOT simply overload a roller with primer in order to get it into the grooves. As always, you want to paint with thin coats. On paneled walls it is even more important because too much paint will get caught in the grooves and cause drips everywhere on your walls.
You also need to be sure to use that angled brush to get paint down into the cracks where the panels or planks meet the trim, especially along the baseboard.
Step 4: Fill nail holes
Let the primer coat dry according to the can. Now is the perfect time to fill holes in the walls. I like to do it at this point because the holes are easier to spot once the walls have been primed.
Using wood filler or spackle, put a small amount onto a putty knife and fill holes and cracks. Then wipe smooth with a damp cloth. If you have larger holes to fill, allow the substance to dry then lightly sand over the spot to smooth it.
Step 5: Prime again
Once the filler has dried according to the package instructions, prime again. I recommend two layers of primer, especially if you are trying to paint your walls white. This is because paneling is hard to prime evenly, especially with a brush, and solid wood planks can also lead to bleed through.
A second coat of primer can also save you money in the end because it will require less paint, which is usually more expensive than primer.
Step 6: Paint
Once a second coat of primer is dried (be sure to refer to drying times on your paint cans), you can begin painting. Again, you will want an angled brush that easily covers your planks and goes into the cracks between.
Work in sections: painting the cracks, smoothing over the flat portions of the planks, and then moving on. As with the primer, be sure to paint into the cracks where the panels meet the trim work.
For this project, I was able to get full coverage with just one coat of paint. But if you are not happy with the paint job after one coat, follow with another thin coat.
GET THE LOOK:
And that’s it! You can remove the protective tape, reattach the electrical covers and hardware, and enjoy your new space.
I hope you found this painted paneling tutorial helpful. Be sure to pin it for later!
Did you enjoy that?
Have my best tips on home decor, DIY, and life delivered directly to your inbox.